Search Results for: christmas

Lemon Curd …

Lemon Curd 001

Lemon Curd is a delicious, sweet, thick dessert spread and topping. It’s sometimes referred to as Lemon Spread or Lemon Butter but, whatever you call it, it’s quite quick and easy to make. One spoonful of this tart, yet sweet goodness and you’ll be hooked … guaranteed!

I usually serve mine for afternoon tea with a beautiful, fluffy scone, or my kids love it with pikelets and fresh fruit for an after school snack. I also enjoy making it as a homemade gift at Christmas time for family and friends and it makes an ideal gift for teachers. Enjoy!

Lemon Curd …
Ingredients …
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1 cup castor sugar
  • ⅓ cup butter, chopped roughly
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
  • ⅔ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
Method …
  1. Whisk egg yolks and castor sugar together in a medium-sized saucepan.
  2. Add butter, lemon zest and lemon juice and stir mixture constantly over a very low heat for approximately 10 – 12 minutes or until mixture coats the back of a wooden spoon thickly.
  3. Remove from stove and pour into sterilised jars, seal with a lid and place in the fridge to cool completely.

Clever Tricks, Tips and Hints …

  • This Lemon Curd will keep for up to 2 weeks in a sealed, air-tight jar or container in the fridge. I’ve also frozen Lemon Curd successfully and it will keep for up to 2 months in the freezer.

  • Be patient when waiting for the Lemon Curd to thicken on the stove as it can take some time. Just be sure to continue stirring for the whole period and don’t walk away and leave the Curd to simmer. I have induction cooking with the top temperature being 9 … I set the stove to 3 to make this Curd.

  • Don’t be tempted to turn the heat up to make the Curd thicken quicker as it will most likely cause it to curdle … it really must be cooked on a very gentle heat … that’s the secret.

  • This Curd recipe will have a slightly “rough” texture due to the lemon zest. If you prefer a completely smooth Curd, you can push it through a fine strainer before bottling.

  • As this recipe uses only egg yolks, save the egg whites and freeze to use at another time to make omelettes, meringues or pavlova.

  • If bottling the Lemon Curd, be sure to sterilise the jars by running them through the hottest cycle of the dishwasher or boiling the jars in a boiler on the stove for approximately 20 minutes.

  • Lemon Curd will thicken once it’s cooled and refrigerated. It can be difficult to reheat but I have done it successfully by placing it in a small saucepan and reheating over the lowest heat and by stirring gently. If it’s reheated on a high temperature it will burn.

Lemon Curd 002

Apple, Peach and Date Pudding …

Apple, Peach and Date Pudding 001

Nothing beats a beautiful pudding and it really is one of the ultimate comfort foods. However, for many years I avoided making one. They scared me a little as I was under the impression that they were hard to make. In reality, however, nothing could be further from the truth. This is such an easy recipe because all the ingredients are simply mixed together in a single bowl and then boiled on the stove top.

For me, the real secret to most puddings is to soak the fruit for as long as possible. This recipe does suggest soaking the fruit overnight and that’s definitely sufficient, but I like to soak it for 3 or 4 days so the fruit really absorbs the Cointreau.

Although pudding is often associated with Christmas, this would be perfect at any time of the year and ideal to serve as dessert at a dinner party. It’s moist, full of flavour and absolutely delicious … you’ll be sure to impress your guests!

Apple, Peach and Date Pudding …
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Ingredients …
  • 1 x 375g packet mixed dried fruit
  • 1 x 100g packet mixed glace cherries
  • 1 granny smith apple, peeled and grated
  • 1 cup fresh dates, chopped
  • 1 cup Cointreau
  • 1 cup tinned peaches, chopped
  • 1 tspn vanilla essence
  • 175g butter, melted
  • 1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 3 eggs lightly beaten
  • 3 cups breadcrumbs
  • 1 ½ cups self–raising flour, sifted
  • 2 tspns mixed spice
Method …
  1. In a large bowl, combine mixed dried fruit, glace cherries, grated apple, fresh dates and Cointreau. Cover, refrigerate and allow to stand overnight (or longer if possible).
  2. Grease an 8-cup pudding steamer and line the base with a circle of baking paper cut to fit.
  3. Remove soaked fruit from fridge, add peaches and vanilla essence and stir through.
  4. Add butter, brown sugar, eggs and breadcrumbs stirring to combine.
  5. Add flour and mixed spice and stir until all ingredients are well combined.
  6. Spoon mixture into the prepared pudding steamer. Smooth the surface of the pudding and cover with a piece of baking paper that has been cut to fit. Finally add the lid of the pudding steamer.
  7. Place a heatproof saucer/bread and butter plate in the base of a large pot. Place pudding steamer on top and then fill the pot with enough water to come two thirds of the way up the side of the pudding steamer. Cover the pot with a well-sealing lid and boil gently for 4 hours. Check the pudding occasionally as you may need to top up the water level with boiling water due to evaporation.
  8. Once cooked, very carefully remove the pudding steamer from the pot and allow to stand on the bench for approximately 15 minutes.
  9. Turn pudding out of the steamer, slice and serve with custard, cream or ice cream.

Apple, Peach and Date Pudding 002

Apple, Peach and Date Pudding 003

Clever Tricks, Tips and Hints …

  • If you think you might bake a few puddings throughout the year, it may be worth buying a pudding steamer. They aren’t particularly expensive. I have two different size steamers, the large one I bought on sale for around $20 and the smaller one I also purchased in a Boxing Day sale from Kmart for around $5.

  • When using a pudding steamer, it’s very important to spray or grease it really well so the pudding comes out easily once cooked, particularly if your steamer is made from metal. To prevent the top of the pudding sticking to the base of the steamer, place a circle of baking paper in the base. To cut the circle the right size, grab a pen or pencil and trace around the bottom of the steamer onto some baking paper. Now cut out the circle but cut inside the drawn line to make the circle slightly smaller than you traced out. This will ensure the circle of baking paper will fit the base of the steamer perfectly. Spray the inside of the steamer, pop the circle of baking paper in the base and your pudding will turn out of the steamer easily. Repeat this process to create the circle of baking paper required for the top of the pudding.

  • During the cooking process, although the pot will have a lid, some water will still evaporate from the pot. A couple of times during cooking, the water level will need to be returned to around two thirds up the side of the pudding steamer. When doing this, always use boiling water rather than water from the tap. Adding boiling water will help maintain the temperature so that no cooking time is lost while cold water has to be reheated.

  • Due to the Cointreau and dried fruit, this pudding will store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 months (not that it will last that long because it will be gobbled up before then). The beauty of that is, if you decide to bake this as your Christmas Pudding, you can bake it weeks ahead of Christmas and be well organised. Baking it early also allows the flavour to develop and a lot of people prefer a pudding that has “aged” a little. It also freezes beautifully and I will sometimes slice it and freeze in individual serves in zip lock bags then hubby can take some to work for morning tea.

  • If you don’t own a pudding steamer, a heat-proof bowl (pyrex bowls are ideal) will give you a similar result. Follow the recipe as it is, and create a “lid” for the pudding by placing a piece of aluminium foil over the top of the bowl and hold in place with firmly-tied string. The aim of doing this is to prevent any moisture from getting into the pudding as it’s cooking.

  • It’s a good idea when steaming a pudding to use the tallest pot you have so that the water isn’t continuously boiling over the side. To save time, I would also suggest putting the water on to boil when you start making the pudding so it’s ready as soon as you need to put the pudding steamer in.

If you like this recipe, you might also enjoy this one:

Slow Cooker Sticky Date Pudding 002

Bag Toppers …

Bag Toppers are a fun, cheap and easy way for kids to share a little bag of goodies with family and friends. Choose the occasion, choose the bag topper you like and then download for free … that’s right, absolutely free! Fill a small ziplock bag or other small plastic/cellophane bag with chocolate, lollies, biscuits, small toys or some other little treat to help celebrate Easter, Halloween or Christmas. Attach the bag topper to the top of each bag with a stapler and share. Each page has been designed to print on a standard A4 page and just remember to adjust your printer settings to print each page at 100%.

I hope you enjoy and please feel free to share with family and friends … they’ll thank you for it!

Please Note: These downloads and printables are free for personal use only. Once printed, the colour may vary from the colour seen on your computer screen. These products may also be printed in black and white by adjusting the settings on your computer and have been designed print on a standard A4 page. If you would like to share any of these items on your website or blog, please contact me first. Thank you.

9 Tips for Choosing a Suitcase You’ll be Happy with …

9 Tips for Choosing a Suitcase you'll be Happy with ...



You’ve saved hard, you’ve dreamt about that holiday for months, even years but one thing that’s easy to overlook in the excitement of planning your dream holiday is your luggage. Yet, when you travel, the suitcase you choose is really important because it’s going to travel as many miles as you do and it needs to arrive in one piece with your possessions intact and undamaged.


Hubby and I travel quite a bit and decided recently that it was time to update our suitcases. The old ones had travelled many miles, the zip on one suitcase was broken and they were both looking tired and shabby. So before I set out to buy some new ones, I put together a list of features that we thought were important and that would be an improvement on the suitcases we had previously owned. So here are my tips when choosing a new suitcase:


  1. Price. Set a budget for what you can realistically afford and stick to it. Shop around for the best price. If you’ve planned ahead and you’re not in a hurry, wait for a special. Department stores like Myer regularly have sales with discounts of up to 40 – 50% and that can save you heaps. Boxing Day sales here in Australia are a great time to buy things like luggage. Also, if you have loyalty points either through your credit card or from using programs like Fly Buys, these can be a great way to reduce the cost of an expensive purchase like luggage. Another great idea is to ask for Gift Cards for birthday and Christmas presents and use those towards your luggage.


  1. Size. Before choosing a suitcase do your homework with regards to size restrictions that might be imposed by different airlines. The biggest suitcase you can find may not necessarily be the best if it doesn’t fit those measurements and you may end up paying for excess luggage. I also think having a huge suitcase encourages you to pack more and the more you pack, the more you have to carry.


  1. Hard or soft. We’ve typically always bought canvas style suitcases. They seem to be the most common and they are definitely cheaper than hard-shell cases. This time, however, we decided to go with a hard-shell case. I had previously purchased a hard-shell carry on bag and had been so happy with it, that we went for that style again.


  1. Wheels. There are two different types of wheels you will find on suitcases. A lot of suitcases come with two fixed rollers attached on only one side of the base of the case and you need to drag the case using an extendable handle and, while these are better than having no wheels at all, they can need a bit of work to manoevour. Other suitcases will come with 4 wheels that will spin and rotate in any direction usually called spinners. These are what we have on our new cases and they are wonderful because they allow you to move the suitcase in any direction with very little effort. I was also able to push the case around without using the handle at all. A word of advice, however, don’t leave this style of suitcase unattended on a sloped surface or it will roll away.


  1. Internal zips and compartments. I like to organise my luggage when I pack and put similar items together in piles. I find this makes it easier to locate things when I need them particularly if we are staying in places for only one or two nights and don’t have the chance to fully unpack. Many suitcases also have external zips and pockets. These can be great for organising and separating items in your case but will require extra padlocks to lock them.


  1. Locks. Whether you buy a case with a built-in combination lock or not I don’t think really matters but just make sure the style of the zip allows you to attach a padlock. It won’t necessarily prevent someone with dishonest intentions from getting inside your suitcase but hey, why make it easy for them!


  1. Handles. Suitcases will generally come with two kinds of handles. The usual handle will be either on the side or the top of the suitcase and will mostly be used when lifting the bag in and out of the car and on and off luggage conveyor belts. It needs to be sturdy to bear the weight of a fully packed case and if the handle is padded and a reasonable width it will be more comfortable to use. The second handle will usually retract inside the bag and will be made of metal. These should also be sturdy and fairly rigid and not wriggle around too much when fully extended. Extending and retracting these handles should be smooth and easily done with only one hand. These should always be pushed down when not in use to reduce damage when sent through to baggage handling.


  1. Weight. This for me is probably the most important feature of all. It’s hard enough to keep the weight of your case inside weight limits without the weight of the actual suitcase being huge before you even pack. This was the main reason we purchased the Samsonite hard-shell case because it is one of the lightest on the market. It weighs less than 3 kgs … wow! Another word of advice … I will be sharing packing tips in anther blog post but don’t be tempted to totally fill your suitcase before you even leave home. Make sure you always leave room for any extra shopping (you know what I mean, girls). Airlines can be tough on baggage weight limits and excess baggage fees can cost you “an arm and a leg” so, pack lightly! This is especially important once your kids get to an age they can pack for themselves. My girls are now older and while it may seem tough, we have a very simple rule with luggage … if you pack it, you carry it!


  1. Style and Colour. Choose a case you like the look of. Chances are you’ll be using it for years so it’s important that you actually like it. With regards to colour, choose something you like but one trick I use is to buy a different colour for each family member. If you need to open someone’s case in a hurry, it’s easier if you can quickly identify who owns which suitcase. While we’re talking about identifying your suitcase, always label every case clearly with a study luggage tag that won’t come off and think about tying a coloured ribbon to each case to make them easy to identify on a luggage carousel at the airport.


One final thing to consider … if you need a new suitcase, should you buy the full set with a range of sizes? It will be more expensive but it will give you a couple of different-sized cases to choose from depending on the length of your trip.


So tell me, can you share any other tips that you think are important when choosing a suitcase and where is the one city or country you dream of travelling to?

How I Organised my Gift Wrapping Supplies …

How I Organised my Gift Wrapping Supplies 001


I’ve always been fairly organised but in my younger days, I used to get caught out when it came to presents. Special occasions like birthdays and anniversaries used to creep up on me and I’d find myself running around at the last minute to buy gift wrapping paper, ribbon and cards from the nearest newsagency. This used to cost me a small fortune not to mention cause me heaps of frustration. I eventually decided enough was enough and got myself organised with a supply of all these items and the savings were massive.


Instead of paying $3 – $4 (and sometimes more) for a single sheet of wrapping paper, I got into the habit of visiting my local discount store where I paid only 50 cents for a sheet. There was no compromise because the quality was just as good and the selection of designs was fantastic.


I also began keeping a supply of gift cards on hand, which I also purchased from $2 shops and discount stores for 50 cents – $1.00 each. I typically buy blank cards because then I can adapt them to suit the occasion.


I used to store all these items in some small plastic crates which I labeled and stacked one on top of the other. This worked for a long time but I began to get frustrated with having to unpack the stack particularly if I needed something from the box on the bottom. These were also not stored in a practical location so I needed a better solution and this is what I’ve come up with.


I found at IKEA this fantastic set of metal mesh drawers called Lennart and for only $19.95 they have proven to be not only a great storage solution but also a real bargain. These come as a flat pack, which you need to assemble but it was really very easy.


I’ve stored the drawer unit in my spare bedroom as we have a rather large bench in that room. This will make it handy as anyone wanting to wrap some gifts can sit at the desk where they will have loads of room to work.


How I Organised my Gift Wrapping Supplies 002


In the top drawer, I placed 3 plastic containers to act as dividers to separate the different items. I bought these from Daiso for only $2.80 each. I wrote down the drawer measurements and took a tape measure with me so I could find something that fit perfectly … and they do. In the first container I’ve stored a selection of large bows. In the second container I’ve stored a selection of smaller bows and the third container holds a selection of Christmas decorations that I use to decorate gifts like Rocky Road and other baked treats. In the spare space in the same drawer I’ve stored a couple of pairs of scissors, a selection of writing pens and gel pens and sticky tape.


How I Organised my Gift Wrapping Supplies 003


The second drawer holds Cellophane bags in a couple of different sizes, a great selection of ribbons for all different occasions (bath patterned and plain) and a couple of different rolls of twine for attaching small gift cards or tags.


How I Organised my Gift Wrapping Supplies 004


The third drawer holds cards and adhesive labels … a variety of Christmas cards (large and small) as well as a selection of blank cards, which can be adapted for any occasion.


How I Organised my Gift Wrapping Supplies 005


The final two items that make up my Gift Wrapping Station are two clear, acrylic magazine holders … one to store gift bags and the other to store sheets of wrapping paper. The advantage of storing both items vertically is that I can flick through them and see at a glance which design I would like to use. Previously on the blog I’ve also shared a clever trick how I create new sheets of wrapping paper by sticking together offcuts to prevent waste. You can read more about that here.

And to finish the project, I created the labels in Excel, which I laminated and attached with double-sided tape, so that everything was easy to identify.


This has been a fun little project and really worth the effort because it will reduce my frustration, save me loads of time and save me heaps of money. Long gone is a mad dash to the shops to buy wrapping paper and cards as I now have a supply that’s readily available with everything that I need all in one spot. Just remember to take note when your supply of a particular item begins to run low so you can stock up next time your at the shops.


So tell me, do you have a supply of wrapping materials at home and do you usually have all your presents bought and wrapped on time or are they something you tend to do at the last moment? Do tell!

Gingerbread Men …

Gingerbread Men 001

Making Gingerbread Men is so much fun and a great cooking activity to share with kids. My girls have always enjoyed making and decorating these little guys and we’ve now got quite a collection of cookie cutters in all shapes and sizes.

A great recipe to make on the weekend to include in lunchboxes through the week, these biscuits will store well in a sealed container for up to a week. This is also a lovely recipe to make at Christmas time to give out as gifts. Enjoy!

Gingerbread Men …
Ingredients …
  • ¾ cup butter
  • ¾ cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • ¾ cup maple syrup
  • 1 ½ tbspns white vinegar
  • 4 cups plain flour, sifted
  • 1 tspn bicarb soda
  • 1 ½ tspn ground ginger
  • ¾ tspn ground cinnamon
  • ½ tspn ground cloves
  • ½ tspn salt
Method …
  1. Preheat oven to 180C (fan-forced oven) and lightly grease two baking trays (or line with baking paper).
  2. Cream butter and sugar together in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Stir in egg, maple syrup and vinegar and beat well.
  4. Add flour, bicarb soda, ginger, cinnamon, cloves and salt and stir until all ingredients are combined thoroughly.
  5. Remove dough from bowl, halve the dough and roll into two balls. Place one ball of dough on a piece of baking paper, cover with another piece of baking paper and roll the dough out to approximately 3 mm thick using a rolling pin.
  6. Remove top piece of baking paper and cut out the desired shapes using a cookie cutter. Use a spatula/egg flip to move the shapes to the lightly-greased baking trays. Place shapes approximately 2 cm apart to allow for spreading. Repeat with the second ball of dough.
  7. Re-roll any left over dough and repeat until all dough has been used.
  8. Bake gingerbread men for approximately 8 ½ minutes. Remove from oven, allow to cool for 2 – 3 minutes on baking tray and then transfer biscuits to a cooling rack.
  9. Once cool, decorate as desired.
  10. This recipe will make approximately 40 biscuits depending on how thick the dough is and the size and shape of the biscuits.

Clever Tricks, Tips and Hints …

  • If you don’t have any maple syrup in the pantry, honey or treacle will substitute well.

  • To ice these I used the Queen Decorating Icing Kit. The kit includes 3 coloured icings (white, pink and brown) with 4 different nozzle designs. Attach the nozzle of choice to the icing tube and then use a writing motion to decorate.

  • Some gingerbread recipes will suggest you wrap the dough in cling film (Glad Wrap) and refrigerate for an hour or so to rest before rolling and cutting the dough. I didn’t with this recipe and it worked just fine.

  • Smarties and M&M’s can also be used to decorate your gingerbread men … attach with a small amount of icing.

Apple and Sultana Muffins …

Apple & Sultana Muffins 001

Wow … Christmas has been busy with lots of lunches and dinners to attend so it was lovely later this afternoon to have some quiet time at home which I spent baking.

The kids will be back at school before we know it and I love to get a head start on baking morning tea treats to build up a bit of a supply in the freezer. A couple of times each week I’ll include muffins in school lunchboxes and this recipe is just perfect for that.

These muffins freeze really well and the grated apple guarantees they’ll be delicious and moist. Enjoy!

Apple and Sultana Muffins …
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 12
Ingredients …
  • 1⅔ cups plain flour (I used Gluten Free)
  • ¾ cup castor sugar
  • 1 tbspn bicarb soda
  • ½ tspn ground ginger
  • 1 tspn ground cinnamon
  • ¾ cup sultanas
  • 1 large green apple, peeled and grated
  • 200ml milk
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup butter, melted
Method …
  1. Preheat oven to 180C (fan forced). Line a 12-hole muffin tray with cupcake wrappers.
  2. Sift flour, sugar, bicarb soda, ginger and cinnamon into a large bowl.
  3. Add sultanas and grated green apple and mix through.
  4. In a jug combine milk, egg and butter and mix with a fork until combined. Add to dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
  5. Spread the batter evenly between the cupcake cases, approximately two-thirds full.
  6. Bake for 19 – 20 minutes until golden brown. Test by inserting a skewer into one of the muffins, which should come out cleanly.
  7. Remove from oven and transfer muffins to a cooling rack. Allow to cool completely before attempting to remove cupcake wrappers otherwise the wrappers will stick.

Boxing Day Sales Survival Guide …

Boxing Day Sales Survival Guide


Merry Christmas, everyone!


I hope everyone had a wonderful day spent with family and friends and if you aren’t sick of the shops, the Boxing Day Sales start tomorrow.


I love the Boxing Day Sales and, for me and my girls, it’s a bit of a tradition. While the boys settle in at home to watch the cricket, we hit the shops. It’s a fantastic opportunity to make some great savings but there are a few tricks to make sure you get the best out of the sales. Here are my top tips:


  • Plan ahead. This is the time of year to buy those things that the family needs but you’re not desperate for e.g. towels, sheets, kitchen items, work clothing, updating an appliance, etc. I like to keep a list throughout the year so that I’m prepared and can make significant savings on things I don’t need to buy urgently. Boxing Day Sales are also a great opportunity to start next years’ birthday, anniversary and Christmas shopping. We’ve all heard the saying “the early bird catches the worm” so find some great bargains, save a fortune and put those gifts away until you need them.


  • Don’t overspend and set a budget. This will allow you to control your spending and set a limit. By shopping at the Boxing Day Sales, chances are you will be able to find gifts that are worth much more than the budget you have set.


  • Stick to your list. It’s very easy to go on a spending spree on Boxing Day because everything is so cheap but remember, a bargain is only a bargain if you manage to save money on something you either needed or something you actually planned to buy. Buying an item just because it’s cheap is not a good deal if you spend money you don’t have or buy something you really didn’t need.


  • Do your homework. Research is the name of the game when it comes to shopping at the Sales. Once you have a list, search the catalogues and then get on the internet. A lot of stores will advertise their specials online as early as Christmas Eve. Christmas in particular is a time when retailers want to get rid of excess stock, particularly seasonal items like decorations, Christmas wrapping paper and cards.


  • Negotiate. Don’t be afraid to use your phone to compare the prices of an item in the store before heading to the checkout. If you are buying appliances, ask for further savings even if items appear to already be heavily discounted. The worse that can happen is a salesman will say no but, unless you ask, you don’t know.


  • Start early. All serious shoppers know that the best bargains are to be had first thing in the morning. Not only that but fighting for a carpark can be extremely frustrating … just ask anyone who arrives after 10.00 am.


  • Be methodical. Work out a plan before you get to the shopping Centre. Know where you want to go, know what you want to buy and plan a rough route so you’re not running back and forward from one side of the Shopping Centre to the other.


  • Where comfortable clothing and shoes. Shopping at the Boxing Day Sales can mean a long day so you want to be comfortable and not end up with sore feet.


  • Hydrate and don’t forget to eat. Make sure you carry water because shopping is thirsty work. Eat a good brekkie before you go and remember also to schedule a lunch break to recharge your batteries.


  • Leave the kids at home. The crowds on Boxing Day are huge and I find small children can get tired and bored easily so I used to leave them at home so I could focus on my shopping.


  • Remember your manners and be patient. Over the years, I’ve witnessed some fairly average behaviour from some shoppers on Boxing Day. Some shoppers can be pretty determined to get a carpark, grab the last item on sale or jump queues at checkouts. I’ve learned to take a deep breath and count to ten … it usually works.


  • Look after your handbag and your money. When you’re loaded down with shopping bags, it can be very easy to put your bag down without thinking or leave it hanging on the back of a chair. Don’t leave your handbag unattended in a fitting room or trolley and keep your wallet securely zipped up in your handbag. Crowds are huge on Boxing Day and it’s important to protect your valuables like cash, credit cards and mobile phones.


  • Remember to use gift cards received on Xmas Day. Most gift cards have an expiry date so make sure they get used and not lost in your wallet.


So, tell me, do you enjoy the Boxing Day Sales or do you avoid them altogether?

Slow Cooker Sticky Date Pudding …

Slow Cooker Sticky Date Pudding 002

Recently I shared one of my family traditions … Pudding Day. Every year, about 6 weeks before Christmas, my family gets together to make our Christmas Puddings in the old, traditional way. We use a family recipe that has been handed down through the generations, ingredients are mixed by hand and the puddings are wrapped in calico and hung for 6 weeks before being devoured on Christmas Day.

Now, if you haven’t made a Christmas Pudding for this year, there’s still time and this gorgeous Slow Cooker Sticky Date Pudding is a delicious alternative to a traditional Plum Pudding. It’s so easy to make and really the only time-consuming part is chopping up the dates. The result is a beautiful, moist, delectable pudding that will have your guests screaming for more … so grab your slow cooker and let’s go!

Slow Cooker Sticky Date Pudding …
Ingredients …
  • 2 ¼ cups fresh dates, finely chopped with seeds removed
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  • ⅓ cup butter
  • 1 teaspoon bicarb soda
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup self-raising flour
  • ¾ cup plain flour
  • ½ teaspoon mixed spice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Method …
  1. Combine dates, water, sugar and butter in a saucepan. Stir over medium heat until butter is melted and sugar has dissolved. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 5 minutes.
  2. Remove from heat and transfer to a large mixing bowl. Stir in bicarb soda and allow to cool for 10 – 15 minutes.
  3. Add vanilla extract to eggs and stir to combine.
  4. Add egg mixture and remaining sifted, dry ingredients to date mixture and stir gently to combine.
  5. Lightly grease 850ml capacity pudding steamer and spoon ½ pudding mixture into steamer and attach lid. Refrigerate remaining ½ of pudding mixture to create a second pudding.
  6. Place steamer in slow cooker and pour enough boiling water into slow cooker to come halfway up side of steamer. Place lid on slow cooker and cook on high for 3 ½ hours. This recipe will make 2 small puddings, with each pudding perfect for up to 8 – 10 people. If you would like to make a single, larger pudding, use a 2-litre steamer or larger bowl and cook for 5 hours.
  7. Remove pudding from slow cooker, remove lid from pudding steamer and allow to stand for 10 minutes before turning pudding onto a plate.
  8. Cut/slice pudding and serve with cream, custard or ice cream.

Clever Tricks, Tips and Hints …

  • I used fresh dates but packaged dates will work just as well.

  • When purchasing the dates, approximately 20 large dates will give you the 2 ¼ cups needed for this recipe.

  • If you don’t have a pudding steamer, use a glass bowl instead. Create a lid by covering the bowl with a double layer of aluminium foil and tie firmly with string to seal.

  • I made this pudding using White Wings Gluten Free flours which substitute easily … cup for cup.

White Chocolate Tim Tam Balls … 3 Ingredients …

White Chocolate Tim Tam Balls 001

White Chocolate Tim Tam Balls are a delicious, sweet treat that are easy to make and only need 3 ingredients! These are a Christmas favourite at my place but really they are perfect for any time of the year. Package them up as a gift for family or friends, serve on a cheese platter or the kids will love them for a little after school treat. Enjoy!

4.5 from 2 reviews
White Chocolate Tim Tam Balls …
Serves: 40 – 45
Ingredients …
  • 2 x packets White Tim Tams (330 g)
  • 1 ½ cups desiccated coconut
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk (400 g)
  • Desiccated coconut, extra for rolling
Method …
  1. Break up biscuits roughly, place in food processor and blend until they resemble course biscuit crumbs.
  2. Add desiccated coconut and blend until combined.
  3. Add sweetened condensed milk and process until ingredients are combined.
  4. Transfer mixture to a mixing bowl and refrigerate for approximately 30 minutes to allow mixture to firm up.
  5. Remove from fridge and roll mixture into small balls. Roll each ball in extra desiccated coconut.
  6. These are best refrigerated and served the next day as it gives them a change to firm up.

Letters to Santa …

Letters to Santa 001




When my kids were growing up, one of our favourite traditions was writing a letter to Santa. Not only was it a magical part of Christmas but it also gave me some great ideas for their Christmas Presents. I’ve recreated those same letters and they are now available for you to download absolutely free on the blog.


Letter 1 is to Santa and includes your child’s wish list.





Letter 2 is from Santa replying to their original letter (Letter 1).





Letter 3 can be left for Santa on Christmas Eve.





Letter 4 is from Santa thanking your kids for their treats and wishing them Merry Christmas.





Once the kids have written their letter, it can be posted to Santa using this address:



North Pole 9999


Place a 70 cent stamp in the top right-hand corner on the front of the envelope. Don’t forget to turn the envelope over and write your child’s name and address on the back so that Santa knows where to send a reply. Just pop the letter/s in a normal letterbox or drop it off at the Post Office.


Australia Post will send a letter from Santa to your child. They try to reply to your child’s letter on the day it’s received but a little elf tells me that they receive over 150,000 letters Australia wide … that’s a big task so don’t leave it too late. Alternatively, you can use Letter 2 mentioned above.


One final tip, once your kids have written a letter, make sure you copy it before you seal the envelope. I like to take a photo on my mobile phone because then I have it with me when I go shopping or I can refer to it when preparing my Christmas Shopping List.


This is a lovely activity you can do with your kids that adds to the magic of Christmas. It’s also a great opportunity to have a chat to them about the real meaning of Christmas (it’s not all about presents) and to realistically manage their expectations of what they might receive.


Feel free to download and enjoy and why not spread some Christmas cheer by sharing these with family and friends.


So tell me, have you finished your Christmas shopping or are you still working through your list?

Toblerone Dip …

Toblerone Dip 001

About 4 months ago, I shared a photo on Instagram of a beautiful platter of fruit I had prepared and taken to a barbecue when I had been asked to bring a plate. I mentioned at the time that it was a fantastic alternative to a plate of nibblies as it looked great, tasted great and was so healthy. Below is the original photo I shared.


At the time, one of my lovely readers suggested that a bowl of Toblerone Dip would be the perfect addition to my fruit platter. Well, I finally got around to making it and I have to say, it’s divine. It requires only 2 ingredients, can be whipped up in under 2 minutes and is decadently delicious! So, with Christmas just around the corner, if someone asks you to “bring a plate”, this is a wonderful option. Enjoy!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Toblerone Dip …
Ingredients …
  • 150ml Thickened Cream
  • 200g Toblerone
Method …
  1. Place cream in a saucepan and warm gently on a low heat (don’t allow to boil).
  2. Break Toblerone bar into pieces and drop into warm cream. Stir until melted.
  3. Once combined, remove from heat and set aside to cool. As the dip cools it will thicken. Serve with a fruit platter.